Stepping Out

No, not an early track by The Fall, but a brand new album from New York experimental group Playfield. This is a truly remarkable album by what is probably my current favourite group of musicians. To be featured on World of Jazz Episodes 517 and 518

Playfield has never played inside. Daniel Carter, a multi-instrumentalist and the founder of 577 Records, has always pushed to make sound more real, relying on outdoor performance and New York City’s auditory ambience, to orchestrate his pieces. This practice, which is fundamentally improvisational and experimental, opens any final recording to the unpredictable nature of strangers’ sound and offers a rich texture of a moment in time. Importantly for the artists, this practice draws on the energy of one’s external environment: conversations, car horns, bird songs, and far away, even other music. That changed with Stepping Out, the group’s first recording in the comparatively sterile environment of a studio. Alongside Carter, Luisa Muhr (Voice), Ayumi Ishito (Tenor Sax and Electronics), Eric Plaks (Piano and Rhodes), Aron Namenwirth (Guitar and Electronics), Yutaka Takahashi (Guitar and Electronics), Zachary Swanson (Bass), Jon Panikkar (Drums) packed into a Brooklyn recording studio. As the environment shrank from open streets to an enclosed room, the artists were compelled to make field recordings of cicadas or ice-cream trucks, and include heavy new effects to transition between improvisations. Producers Jon Rosenberg and Aron Namenwirth borrowed mixing techniques from the pop and cinema world to bring jazz into the 21st century without resorting to commercial beats or a famous feature singer. The result is creative, expansive, and intently real. Stepping Out will be available on CD in October 2022.

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